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International Community Should Focus On Resilience, Not Just Relief, In Response To Drought In Horn Of Africa

“Over the past year, 13.3 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia were thrown into crisis as a result of drought in the Horn of Africa, the worst in 60 years,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah writes in this Devex opinion piece. “Droughts cannot be prevented, but they can be predicted and mitigated thanks to investments in early warning systems, satellite technology and on-the-ground analysis,” he writes, adding, “By identifying those communities facing the gravest risks and strategically focusing our efforts, we can help them withstand crisis.”

“To provide help that has lasting impact, we must expand our focus from relief to resilience — from responding after emergencies to preparing communities in advance and helping them prevail afterwards,” he writes, adding, “Through targeting those most vulnerable, strengthening nutrition and using market-sensitive, cash-based programs that access locally available goods, USAID is working to ensure that our humanitarian response builds the resilience of these communities and countries even as we save lives.” Shah notes that the Global Alliance for Action for Drought Resilience and Growth, launched in April, is “working to ensure that resilience programming is a core component of dry-land programs in the Horn of Africa.” He concludes, “That desire for dignity — relying on yourself instead of depending on others — is something that we all seek. If the international community focuses on resilience — not just relief — then we can do our part to support them” (6/4).